The Zambian government will take a 55% majority share in a joint venture with Ethiopian, which will have the remaining shareholding. The investment follows others made by Ethiopian, which has a 49% stake in Malawian Airlines and a 40% investment in Togo’s Asky Airlines.
Ethiopian has also attempted to seal a deal to manage Nigeria’s Arik Air, but halted negotiations in late December following “legal and financial complications”.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian has also been shortlisted by Ghana as one of three potential partners – among them Air Mauritius and Ghana’s own Africa World Airlines – to relaunch its national carrier.
Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian Airlines group chief executive, said the latest agreement was in line with Ethiopian’s Vision 2025 multiple hubs strategy.
Ethiopian’s plan is to reverse the tide of non-African airlines’ domination on the continent. These now carry 80% of the traffic between Africa and the rest of the world, double the proportion of two decades ago, according to Ethiopian.
“As an indigenous and truly pan-African airline, we firmly believe that it is only through partnerships among African carriers that the aviation industry of the continent will be able to get its fair share of the African market,” said GebreMariam.
Zambia Airways stopped flying in 1994, but in December this year a $30 million investment by the Zambian government in the new airline was agreed.